Professor Philip Barker


Research Overview

Phil addresses big environmental questions using the ecology and chemistry of microscopic organisms. His focus is on using diatoms and stable isotope methods to explore changes in climate, biogeochemical cycling and water quality changes.

He has spent much of the last 25 years working in Africa investigating long term climate change from lake sediment archives. Parallel studies have been conducted in the Lake District examining water quality and ecological changes in lakes and rivers.

Published Research

Phil has published more than 100 papers and book chapters including six in Nature and Science.

His most recent work explores the long term evolution of climate on Kilimanjaro using oxygen, silicon and carbon isotopes from the remains of diatoms in the sediments of Lake Challa, a 97m deep volcanic crater. He is also investigating changes in the carbon cycle of freshwater ecosystems using carbon isotopes from contemporary biofilms in lakes and rivers.

Phil has received funding for his work from:

  • Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC)
  • Engineering and Physical Sciences research Council (EPSRC)
  • International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP)
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)

Current research

Phil’s current research projects include:

He co-leads the Eden Demonstration test catchment with particular responsibility for biomonitoring

Phil’s PhD students are using diatoms and isotope methods in biomonitoring and studies of environmental change. Current projects include: land use and climate variability in the Lake District; biomonitoring of UK rivers; climate change from Iberian speleothem; and carbon release from Icelandic glaciers.


Phil is currently:


Phil’s current teaching roles include:

He has examined more than 25 PhD students from different UK and international universities.